Savvy, by Ingrid Law, 2009, Book Review

savvySavvy is a uniquely-styled book that won Newbery honors last year. Its most outstanding feature is the rhythmic nonsense words that flood the prose, creating a style all its own  “Fibertygibbity,” “a fizz and a zing,” “jump and jive,” “razzmatazz,” “bumping, jumping,” “stumbled and tumbled,” “gewgaws,” and “…loosening his lip-lock.” Ms. Law has a very distinctive and catchy way of saying everything, which makes her book quite unforgettable.

So how’s the story, you ask? Fabulous! Every member of the Beaumont family is gifted with some kind of savvy that shows up on their thirteenth birthday. Grandpa stretches and manipulates the earth, Rocket’s sparks with electricity, Fish creates tropical storms, Grandma catches and cans radio waves, and Mibs? She’s about to find out. But just before her birthday, her father is in a terrible accident. In an attempt to get to him, she stows away on a pink Bible delivery bus and drags a lot of people into trouble with her. In the process, she learns that turning thirteen signals a lot more changes than just a savvy.

The cast of characters contains some gritty, down-to-reality kinds of folks. The pastor, for one, is decidedly human. And Miss Rosemary, the preacher’s wife, is well-meaning but someone you can’t wait to wave good-bye to.  Lester, the not-so-bright Bible deliveryman finds that confidence and a good woman sometimes go hand-in-hand. The kids, Will and Fish and Bobbi and Mibs, squabble and fight and end up better friends. And the Beaumonts?  Even a savvy doesn’t make you perfect, even when perfection is your savvy. By the end, you love them all.

On top of a great story and great characters, Savvy is sprinkled with little life lessons that make the book all the tastier. Like “you can’t get rid of part of what makes you you and be happy.” Or “I realized that good and bad are always there and always mixed up together in a tangle.” Or my favorite, “when something like that comes along, whether it’s an accident or a savvy or a very first kiss, life takes a turn and you can’t step back. All you can do is keep moving forward and remember what you’ve learned.”

While the gibberish words sometimes wore me down, and I imagine they might be challenging for a reader unfamiliar with them, they also add to the book’s charm. And Savvy definitely has a lot of charm. Two thumbs way up!

 

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